Harkening back to the sounds of such first-generation pioneers as Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, Open Road is a traditionally minded bluegrass unit formed by relative youngsters (i.e., in their late 20s, early 30s). The Fort Collins, Colorado, group began in the late '90s when lead singer and guitarist Bradford Lee Folk, who worked at a cattle ranch, met up with Caleb Roberts, an electrical engineer who hailed from Columbia, South Carolina. (Roberts was a founding member of Slim Cessna's Auto Club, an alt-country band that infused punk energy with incendiary gospel.) Roberts, who had always intended to form a traditional bluegrass group, found a more-than-ready ally in Folk, who possessed an uncanny tenor and had grown up listening to bluegrass in his native Missouri. The two added bassplayer Ben O'Connor, fiddler Jean Ballhorn, and banjoist Mark Leslie (later replaced by Jim Runnels) to form Open Road, a name borrowed from a gentile style of Stetson hat favored by well-dressed bluegrass players. Top-notch dobro player Sally Van Meter produced the band's self-titled 2000 debut, which included a slew of old bluegrass covers and several tracks penned by Folk. The group released its sophomore effort, Cold Wind, on Rounder Records in 2002. By that time, Robert Britt had replaced Ballhorn on fiddle and Eric Thorin had supplanted O'Connor on bass. Open Road was nominated in 2001and 2002 for "Emerging Artist of the Year" by the International Bluegrass Music Association. ~ Erik HagePortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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